The year 2013 was not a particularly good one for
This institution that has endured for thousands
of years is hanging on, even stubbornly so – marriage is presently considered by
most Americans a union between one man and one woman –
but if the tide does not soon turn, events that transpired in 2013 could be viewed
in the future as the beginning of the end of marriage.
Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court
rendered two important decisions on same-sex “marriage.” In both instances the
High Court declined to define marriage, leaving that responsibility to the
states, thereby allowing marriage to live on for another day.
These holdings didn’t help marriage but they
didn’t destroy it either. Far more damaging than the rulings was the rhetoric (or
put another way, the side commentary of the Court) implying that supporters of
traditional marriage are driven by bigotry. That public condemnation, along
with the ever-present media machine churning out propaganda on the issue, has seemingly
had a profound impact, shifting and escalating momentum in favor of so-called
Following the Supreme Court decisions, like
sharks smelling blood in the water, ACLU, Lambda Legal, and like-minded
colleagues, wasted little time in filing more lawsuits, challenging state
Defense of Marriage laws and state constitutional amendments that characterize
marriage in the historical way.
But, perhaps, a ruling that came out just a few weeks
ago in Utah represents the most ominous sign for marriage in 2014 and beyond.
In a case involving the Browns, a polygamous
family consisting of one husband and four wives made famous in the reality
series “Sister Wives” on TLC, U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoup struck
down the most crucial sections of a statute prohibiting bigamy, which had made
polygamous cohabitation a crime.
Polygamists like the Browns describe their
relationships as “spiritual marriages,” and don’t seek recognition from the
state, even though they live as if they were legally married. After Judge
Waddoups’ ruling on this statute, their polygamous relationships are now legal,
at least in Utah.
The Browns’ attorney, Jonathan Turley, celebrated
the victory with a familiar refrain, praising the decision for achieving “true
equality of its citizens, regardless of their personal faiths or practices.”
Borrowing the term “equality” from proponents of
same-sex “marriage” is no coincidence. The underlying principle and legal argument
is precisely the same: the meaning of marriage should be based on whom we love,
not what the state believes is the best setting for raising children.
The fears of those who stand for traditional
marriage are being realized. For once the institution of marriage strays from
its traditional moorings and meaning, it is subject to severe alteration, being
redefined in any number of ways, only limited by the imagination of those who wish
to partake in it.
On the heels of legalized polygamy, polyandrous
marriages – where a woman takes on two or more husbands – will surely follow. After
all, equality would demand it, and they too want to marry whom they love.
Another popular variation of marriage is a
movement known as polyamory. Those
are group marriages, sort of a state-sanctioned “love shack,” where four men
and two women, two men and seven women, or any other grouping of folks get
married and all have sexual relations with each other.
Much like those who advocate for same-sex
“marriage,” those pushing for polyamorous marriages say their group activity is
an inherent part of their sexuality. They also want to marry whom they love.
Marriage is sliding down the proverbial slippery
slope, changing dramatically as it descends. If the decision in Utah is any
indication, courts are becoming more and more willing to permit any form of sexual
behavior between “consenting adults” and then go so far as to endorse that
behavior by changing the definition of marriage to apply to those situations.
And yet, if marriage continues on this same trajectory,
not even “consenting adults” will hold as bounds on people desiring to marry
whom they love. Recently, signifying
another banner moment for 2013, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in
Toronto declared pedophilia (adults viewing children as sexual objects) is not
a psychological disorder, but a sexual orientation, like heterosexuality and homosexuality.
How long will it take for legal advocacy groups
representing pedophiles to stake claim to their rights, urging
that these individuals only want to marry who they love?